The mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) is a model of T cell responsiveness to antigenic peptides complexed with major histocompatibility (MHC) proteins on antigen presenting cells (APC). Since dietary protein deficiencies alter T cell development, syngeneic and allogeneic MLR were investigated in mice fed a low protein 4% casein (4Ca) or control 20% casein (20Ca) diet. Proliferation of splenic lymphocyte populations from BALB/c mice fed 4Ca was increased during syngeneic and allogeneic MLR compared with lymphocytes from mice fed 20Ca. Increased proliferation was accompanied by significantly higher production of IL2 and IL3 during syngeneic, but not allogeneic MLR To determine the influence of autologous B cells on IL2 and IL3 production during MLR, lymphocyte populations of mice fed 4Ca or 20Ca were depleted of B cells. Splenic lymphocyte populations of mice fed 4Ca that were depleted of B cells did not exhibit increased IL2 or IL3 production during syngeneic or allogeneic MLR. Splenic APC of mice given 4Ca caused greater proliferation during MLR. However, APC of 4Ca mice did not cause greater IL2 or IL3 production. Similarly neither IgM-B cells nor macrophage from mice fed 4Ca induced elevated IL2 or IL3 production during syngeneic or allogeneic MLR. A dichotomy appeared in that 4Ca-APC were able to induce higher T cell proliferation but not cytokine production compared with 20Ca-APC. The enhancement of T cell responsiveness to Class II MHC determinants on APC during moderate protein deficiency appears to require both T and B cells from mice fed the deficient diet.
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